Ringwood bouncing back for Christmas

Ringwood bouncing back for Christmas

  • By: Ringwood Town Council

Despite the seemingly constant doom and gloom about bricks and mortar retail in the media these days, it’s great to have more of a positive local story to tell.

Ringwood is a popular market town with many independent and family run businesses. The town also attracts big name brands that often trade well above their regional competitors. However due to the necessity to replace the bridges and widen the westbound A31, there has been major traffic disruption in and out of Ringwood since work started back in January 2022. This has without doubt affected all businesses as many customers avoided the long queues and opted to take their custom elsewhere or to purchase more goods online. Some businesses have reported sales down by as much as 30%.

While many of the Ringwood businesses have struggled with the drop in footfall over the last eleven months; just as many also demonstrated commendable resilience and creativity to entice customers to shop with them.

With support offered from events such as The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Ringwood Business Association ‘Support Day’ held in June, business owners were provided with expert business advice and support. Many Ringwood businesses have been encouraged to expand their digital offering, introduce loyalty schemes, adapt their product or service offering and change the way they reach customers.

Angela Cork (owner of Ringwood Fabrics) added that; “Ringwood businesses are delighted to have the slip road open again. The roadworks were definitely not our friend but we adapted by putting on more home deliveries. We are now looking forward to welcoming back our customers into our physical store, just in time for Christmas.”

Mother and daughter owners’ of Browns Clothing, Gabs Brown and Charlotte Essex, have navigated the roadworks with an interestingly agile approach to retail. Instead of waiting for customers to come to them, instead they brought their products to their customers - with a number of pop-up shops at people’s homes, fairs and businesses. They also offered a 1-1 appointment service out of hours to enable customers to shop at a time that suits them. 

Julie Astley-Weston, owner of Love to b skincare, has been busy attracting customers into her Ringwood based flagship store with an increased social media presence and the exceptional customer service of her team. She has also held exclusive events in store, such as their popular Prosecco Pamper evenings, to attract customers to enjoy something that can’t be bought online. This shift towards experiential retail is a trend that we anticipate will continue to happen throughout Ringwood as the roadworks become a distant memory (or distant nightmare for some!).

“Tracy Sims, owner of The Courtyard café, helped locals celebrate by filling their bellies with an extra special “end of the roadworks” breakfast special.

Ringwood Town Mayor, Gareth De Boos, comments; “It’s fantastic to see our wonderful town accessible again. We hope those customers who avoided us (quite understandably) will return and shop with us again. Now, more than ever, is the time to support local businesses.”

Despite the roadwork disruption, businesses have still shown faith in Ringwood as a prosperous destination. A number of new businesses have opened their doors in 2022; including lifestyle gift & silk flower shop With Grace, independent coffee supply brand Barista & Co, boutique fragrance store Perfumery & Co and quirky family-run coffee shop Ground. The vibrant market town has also attracted national brands including Sweaty Betty, Clarendon Fine Art Gallery and Domino’s

James Rowe, one half of the brother-in-law family duo that opened the Ground coffee shop in October commented; “We both love Ringwood and this is a perfect central spot. Also, we aim to keep everything local from produce to packaging. A visit to us is an experience, not like just walking into a traditional tearoom – we’ve gone well away from that.”

Caroline Scott, Sweaty Betty’s SVP of Global Retail commented on why their successful fitness brand chose Ringwood as a destination for their new store; “It is a delightful, unspoilt historic town with both quaint and modern shops, street entertainment, restaurants, pubs and cafes”.

Emma Betsy, owner of the new With Grace gift & silk flower store that opened on 5th November, comments; “Ringwood is my hometown. I’ve always wanted to open a shop here as it’s such a vibrant market town with a great vibe. I know the roadworks have caused hardship for many and I can’t wait for our customers to enjoy a stress-free and enchanting Christmas with us.”

Looking ahead, since the roadworks officially ended on 19th November (nearly a fortnight ahead of schedule), there is a lot to look forward to in the town.

Ringwood Town Council will soon launch their annual Christmas Window Competition as part of their wider ‘Winter Wanderland’ campaign with an impressive 30+ businesses getting involved to delight their customers with their enchanting window displays. A Wanderland Map with all the businesses, shops and community organisations taking part is available to pick up from the Gateway building to encourage visitors to take a 'wander' around the town. The winners are voted for by the public and the competition gets more fiercely competitive every year!

Free parking across the town will be introduced in the Ringwood NFDC Pay & Display car parks on Sunday 27th November and Saturday 3rd, 17th and Sunday 18th December to help give local businesses an extra boost in the run up to Christmas.

The hugely anticipated Ringwood Christmas Light Switch On community event will take place on Sunday 27th November. This popular free event takes place in the town centre (including along the High Street and Market Place) and this year is bigger and better than ever before! Over sixty market stalls; made up of local arts and crafts, produce, gifts and charity stalls - plus hot food and drink including mulled wine, hog roast, fish and chips, bratwurst & stone baked pizza, will adorn the decorated streets.

There will be two Santa parades taking place with his trusty reindeer (one at 11.30am and one at 5.45pm) as the big man makes his way to the town’s magical Grotto. If this wasn’t enough, then there is also a small fairground to entertain the kids in the Market Place, street entertainment for all ages throughout the afternoon, live bands and special guests on the main stage. Father Christmas will then officially turn the lights on at 6pm.

The Furlong shopping centre will also be celebrating the end of the roadworks with an extra special Late Night Shopping event on Thursday 1st December. Customers can enjoy a fashion show, inflatable Igloo photo booth, live music, store discounts, giveaways and much more. There will also be two free Crafty Elf Workshops on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December where children can make Christmas tree decorations using reclaimed wood from the New Forest.

We are fortunate that so many businesses (sadly not all) were able to weather the storm of the roadworks but they need your support more than ever now. If you can, please #shoplocal and #loveRingwoodagain